Is Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) misleading the public on the number of trees that will be axed in its Phase II project? For its Baiyappanahalli to Whitefield stretch (15.2 km), earlier, the officially projected number of trees that needed to be cut was 275. But the BMRCL, in its January’s newsletter, mentions for the first time 800 more trees that need to go from private properties – taking the total count to 1,075.
The newsletter had said that it had asked the ACF (Assistant Conservator of Forests), North BBMP, for permission to cut “approximately 275 trees”. “The BMRCL has received permission for cutting 22 trees”, all of which had been cut. It had identified 800 trees under private properties that were coming in the metro alignment and needed to be cut. The BMRCL got permission to cut/prune 47, out of which 24 had been cut.
This is the first time the BMRCL is coming out with a statement that identifies 800 trees for cutting on privately held land, on the stretch notified for the Metro project. In all, it would amount to cutting of 1,075 trees.
In the previous newsletter (for December), the BMRCL had maintained that permission to cut “approximately 275 trees has been sent to ACF, north BBMP, and the BMRCL has received permission for cutting 22 trees and all of them are cut”. For the past several months, BMRCL had talked about cutting a total of 275 trees along the identified stretch.
Environmental activist Vinay Sreeniva said: “The BMRCL is answerable to the public. Why did it hide the number of trees that needed to be cut on private properties? Trees are trees – whether they are on public or private property. The BMRCL and BBMP should go for public consultation before taking any final decision on it, or they would defy provisions of the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act.”
Shanthakumar, ACF of BBMP (north), said: “I have recently been posted to this office. Prior to my posting, permission had been given for axing a certain number of trees. I am not in a position to say anything on cutting trees in private properties as I have no idea whether the BMRCL has approached our office for permission to axe trees on private properties. There are set rules for cutting trees, such as a public notice, formation of a committee and others. Permission will be given to cut trees after verification and only after finding that it is necessary.”
Under Phase II, the BMRCL is extending the Metro line from Baiyappanahalli to Whitefield. On this stretch, which connects the IT corridor, the BMRCL plans to build 14 stations.
It has already notified the required land, compensating property owners wherever necessary. It has issued two separate tenders for the proposed elevated project (Baiyappanahalli to Visvesvaraya Industrial Area station and Visvesvaraya Industrial Area station to Whitefield). The BMRCL would spend Rs 1,336 crore on the project.
The tender documents suggest that to implement the project, it would take 27 months. On the stretch, the BMRCL is giving Rs 600 crore as compensation to acquire properties.
Though a mass transit is badly needed for the Whitefield area, cutting hundreds of trees will have a huge environmental impact in areas where air pollution is already a problem.
BMRCL MD Pradeep Singh Kharola said, “Some small trees have been identified in the median of the alignment and they are being cut for the metro project.”
Credits Bangalore Mirror